OK...maybe that's an exaggeration. I know a lot of you think I'm all over the moon about IKEA especially how we used to make special trips to the one in Dallas all the time. Chris and I did spend a wedding anniversary there once. Having an IKEA store four hours away is so much different than having one twenty minutes from the house. Four hours away IKEA is like a vacation or a get-away. It is a tourist destination. IKEA twenty minutes from the house loses that tourist novelty real fast. Except it's still a tourist destination. If you go into IKEA with a clear mission to get one or two specific items, you must contend with the IKEA tourist and IKEA does their best to make sure that you have to contend with the IKEA tourist. Here's how they do that.
It's really a very brilliant sales tactic. There is a specific path and layout to an IKEA store. Ideally, the people at IKEA would have you start on the top level. You follow the path through various displays starting with couches, chairs and what you can do with 550 square feet of space. The path twists it's way into wall units and media display, followed by kitchens and appliances. Then you have home office things like desks and chairs. Next comes all things bedroom before landing in all things for a kid's room. By the time you've completed the tour of the top floor, you'll probably be a little hungry. No problem. IKEA has placed a cafeteria right there as you exit the kid's section. Swedish meatballs for everyone!
From here, you travel downstairs to the market place section of the store. This is were you can actually pick up and buy the things you saw on display upstairs. The store continues with their path starting with all things kitchen (dishes, utensils, pots and pans), travelling into textiles and bedding, turning a corner into bathroom stuff and then into all things storage and organizing. Then you follow the path into lighting, on into home decor (picture frames, candles) and house plants before the path spits you out into the warehouse section. The warehouse section is where you pick up the larger things that you have to assemble (there's an Alan wrench in every box! We now have five of them!). Then there's check out and by now you're probably feeling a bit peckish. That's OK too because after checkout is a snack bar and a Swedish grocery area. The snack bar is where you can buy the cinnamon rolls which you can smell throughout the store. It's how they keep everyone so calm. Ah, the soothing smell of fresh baked cinnamon rolls.
Now, I'm not a big rule breaking type of girl, but when it comes to IKEA I will look at their path designed to herd and say "no thank you." Don't get me wrong. The path is great for the tourist. It blows monkey balls for someone on a direct mission. I mean I get what IKEA is doing. They want me to go through kitchen utensils to get to storage boxes. While walking through the kitchen utensils, I may suddenly decide that I desperately need yet another UPPHETTA and if I had gone straight to the other thing on my list I would have missed getting that. Again, I say "no thank you, IKEA." Here's what you need to know about staying on course in IKEA. First of all, never trust the online inventory list. It is a liar. There have been three trips made to IKEA in the past three weeks with the sole intention of picking up two FORHOJA wall cabinets. Every time inventory has shown that yes, indeed there are at least seven FORHOJA wall cabinets in stock and yet every time we've trekked down isle thirteen to bin fifteen, we've been left staring at an empty shelf and cursing. Now since this has happened to us one too many times, we've learned to skip the market place path and go straight to the warehouse. This is exactly what we did on Saturday and low and behold they DID have the FORHOJA wall cabinet (Michael was prepared to chew someone's ass. We are all very grateful that this didn't have to happen). Always go straight to the exact item you are going into the store for first. If they don't have it, turn around and storm out. Just do it. You'll stew over the missing item all through the store, end up buying the three pack of TROJKA and stabbing someone with them.
That means, you may be going through the store backwards. This is totally possible if you follow a few courtesies. This plan works well if you are getting something reasonable like the wall cabinets. It will not work if you are buying something that requires that flat bed cart to get out of the store. I repeat. Don't do this if you're buy a bed. You will wreck and kill someone. The key is to do this with things you can carry. If, once inside the marketplace you realize you need a cart, do not panic. Look up and around you. There is always a hidden section marked by a giant shopping cart. There are rows of shopping carts tucked behind that wall. Speaking of hidden sections of shopping carts. The market place section has several hidden cut through options. They have them upstairs too, but you will appreciate them more in the market place. These short cuts allow you to cut through kitchen supplies straight over to textiles. There's one at lighting too that goes to the storage stuff. The key is to be alert and look along the outside walls. If you're going backwards, avoid the main herding path. You will basically be going the wrong way in a one way if you try taking that path. You will make everyone angry, including yourself if you try taking the path backwards. Again stick to the outside walls (furthest from the center of the path). This will also give you easy access to all cut throughs. Always yield to oncoming traffic, be polite and say "excuse me" and you will have very little trouble sticking to your mission of getting only the things on your list.
Saturday was by far the easiest IKEA trip we've ever made. They were taking the "we are full" sign down at Smaland right as we walked up with the Cabbage (who was taking her shoes off as we approached the door, because she was READY!). We dropped the Cabbage off for an hour of supervised play and headed straight over to the warehouse. We picked up all of the items on the list and even had time to run through the grocery section before one of us had to go retrieve the Cabbage from Smaland. All items were in stock. No one got stabbed with scissors and we all high-fived as we loaded the car.
I am now thinking of hiring myself out as an IKEA personal shopper. Yes, I am totally patting myself on the back right this very minute.